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January 2017

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Based on my experience and that of others, I think Lunasea Lighting has a problem with their masthead tricolor lights interfering with AIS returns.

I did the Baja Ha-Ha with about 150 other boats, many of which had Class B active AIS systems. Because everyone was pretty much sailing a straight course, we had as many as 40 AIS returns on our chartplotter at one time. But after dark on the first night, I noticed that many of my AIS returns 'disappeared'. Interestingly enough, the returns that disappeared weren't the most distant ones, but were rather scattered throughout the fleet. It made me worry about the quality of my masthead installation.

However, during a later Ha-Ha party onshore, I was discussing the problem with a friend — when several others who were listening piped in and said they'd had the same experience. What we all had in common was a Lunasea tricolor bulb. The others had a Lunasea masthead fixture with the tricolor, strobe and anchor light, while I had a Lunasea bulb in my non-Lunasea masthead fixture.

I later turned on my tricolor light and watched as about half — 20 of 40 — of the returns disappeared over the course of five minutes or so. Since class B AIS only transmits every few minutes, this would explain the gradual disappearance of the returns, since the chartplotter holds the AIS return until after the next or several polling periods have passed. When I turned off the tricolor, the returns reappeared over the course of about five minutes.

This is obviously a serious safety problem, and I'm wondering how Lunasea might help me address the issue. I have a pretty standard installation with my tricolor roughly in the center of my mast, and a Shakespeare VHF antenna mounted off to the side on a bracket attached to the side of the mast perhaps eight inches away. This is a common installation since it provides optimal propagation of the VHF signal. My radio does not share its power source with the tricolor except, of course, at the battery.

Michael Britt
Footloose, Catana 471
Roy, NM

Readers — As AIS has pretty much become the front line of defense against collisions with medium and large vessels, and as Lunasea is a very popular brand of masthead light, this is indeed a serious issue that everyone needs to be aware of. There may also be a problem with other brands of masthead bulbs.


As many Latitude readers know, my two attempts to start to improve on my nonstop singlehanded around-the-world time with my 38-ft Najad 380 Nereida did not go well. Let me explain why.

The problem I encountered with my two attempts — the first starting on October 19, and the second on November 13 — was getting down the West Coast from Victoria, BC. Very deep lows kept sweeping east across the Pacific earlier than in most years. I'd sailed down to San Francisco from the Strait of Juan de Fuca several times in previous Octobers, having had good weather windows. There were no real windows this October and November. Soon after setting off both times, it was clear that I needed to make good time south to stay clear of very strong winds and seas heading east. But the light winds ahead of the strong weather prevented me from getting far enough south in time to avoid getting caught.

Lying to my Jordan series drogue (JSD) in winds of around 55 knots in October worked well in keeping my boat and me safe, despite one bridle arm's having lost its shackle. The pin was lost soon after deployment, resulting in Nereida's lying more to weather than she would have otherwise. She also swung around quite a bit, so we were occasionally hit by waves? more or less on the beam. Fortunately, there was no damage since the waves were not breaking badly. Even though the cones ended up badly tattered, our eventual speed of 4 knots through the water was far less than it would have been without the JSD. That was a good thing.

As we were about 200 miles offshore, our heading was not a concern, and there seemed to be no shipping around. Unfortunately, the cones were damaged seriously enough for me to have to return to Victoria to replace the drogue. It also gave me a chance to have the staysail repaired, as the cloth had been teased out to a great extent, and was then torn badly in strong winds because it hadn't been furled tightly enough.

When I started from Victoria again on November 13, it initially looked as though there would be a good weather window. But another deep low caught up with us as we headed south, and there were also lots of strong — 40-45 knots — gusty conditions under big masses of clouds. Normally I would have hove to before the wind had gotten so strong, but we were headed downwind and I needed to get south as quickly as possible to try to avoid the worst of the oncoming low. As a result, I kept sailing in the strongest winds I've ever sailed in. It was encouraging for me to see how well the well-reefed Nereida sailed in such conditions.

If two major problems hadn't cropped up when I was well off the coast of San Diego, I was all set for a good onward passage south in excellent trade winds. The first problem was damage to the gooseneck, which wasn't going to be able to survive rough Southern Ocean conditions. The second problem was a hole that had developed in the exhaust elbow of my small generator, rendering the unit unusable. I had too little fuel aboard to use the main engine for battery charging the rest of the way around the world.

As I write this on December 17, my plan is to get all repairs completed in San Diego, then cruise down to Mexico and relax for a few months. I'll head back to Victoria from Mexico in June before the start of the hurricane season, then make another record attempt starting from Victoria in September. An earlier start from Victoria will hopefully reduce the chance I'll get hit by the same kind of storms in the Northwest that I got hit by this year. However, I will have to keep an eye out for end-of-season hurricanes, as they normally head up the coast and then re-curve, finishing near the coast of Mexico, or even inland, later in the season. Earlier in the year they tend to head out to Hawaii.

Jeanne Socrates
Nereida, Najad 380
San Diego Yacht Club

Readers — The Wanderer is a big fan of Jeanne and hopes they can spend some time together in Mexico going over hurricane tracks to make sure her September route south is the best one. The website has all the tracks of Eastern Pacific hurricanes since 1948 — although we're not sure how accurate the tracks could be from more than 20 years ago.


Thank you for noting, in the November editor's response to a letter, the variety of definitions of 'reciprocal privilege' between yacht clubs. Each club defines if and how a member of another club may be accommodated for berthing, meals, refreshments and other things. It may vary depending on a club's schedule, size, slip control, events, tradition, mutual access, or member preference. In other words, it varies broadly.

We understand why there may be some confusion as to what the terms 'reciprocal' and 'privilege' mean. However, it's hard to think of another term that would be less confusing, especially since generations of yacht club members have been accustomed to that term for over a century.

We do believe clubs are increasingly providing explanations on their websites, which helps clarify to what extent they do accommodate a member from another club.

The very best advice is to contact the club ahead of arriving to determine their individual policy.

Shawn Milligan, Commodore
Southern California Yachting Association
Long Beach

Shawn — We respect the tradition of the term 'reciprocal privilege' and weren't trying to be disruptive smart-asses. Nonetheless, we think a lot of misunderstandings come from the inaccuracy of the term when applied to relations between different yacht clubs.

What term would be better? The closest we can come up with is 'conditional accommodation'. While it is more accurate, we'd be the first to admit that the term isn't very elegant. No matter what anybody wants to call it, calling ahead, as you suggest, is the best advice.


Like a lot of other sailors, I was disgusted that the America's Cup isn't returning to San Francisco Bay, where it was such a fantastic spectacle with the 72-ft monster cats. The fact that they'll be using glorified Hobie Cats for the upcoming Cup didn't help sustain my enthusiasm. Nor does the fact that the Cup will be sailed for outside the United States.

Nonetheless, I am a sailor, so I remain mildly interested. Can you fill me in on the basics of the 35th America's Cup that I've been so earnestly ignoring?

Hal Wilson
ex-Pricilla, Cal 2-29
San Francisco

Hal — Sure. The 35th America's Cup will be held in Bermuda this spring/summer. The British Overseas Territory is all of 20 square miles, making it about 40% of the size of San Francisco. Approximately 20% of Bermuda is water. The island country has a population of 65,000. It will be interesting to see if the local population catches 'America's Cup Fever'.

The Louis Vuitton Series to eliminate Challengers will be from May 26 to June 12, while the America's Cup Match, pitting the Challenger against Golden Gate YC's Oracle Team USA, will be held June 17-18 and June 24-27.

The entry fee for the 2017 America's Cup was $2 million per team. The Challengers are: Land Rover BAR from the United Kingdom, Artemis Racing from Sweden, Groupama from France, Emirates Team New Zealand, and Softbank Team Japan.

As you'll recall, the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay was sailed using the spectacular and majestic AC72s. The original plan for the 35th Cup was to use smaller AC62s, but that idea was met with a resounding lack of enthusiasm because of the perceived expense and danger. As a result, the six teams have been competing in one-design AC45Fs, which are foiling, wing-sailed 45-ft cats. Starting in 2015, the teams have raced these boats in Great Britain, Sweden, Bermuda, Oman, New York, Chicago, Portsmouth again, France, and Japan.
For the Challenger Series and Cup, each of the teams must build their own 49-ft foiling cat to a rule that will allow for limited innovation.

How do the 45-ft cats compare to the AC72s sailed on San Francisco Bay? As Aussie skipper Glenn Ashby of Emirates Team New Zealand remarked, it's like the difference between racing a Formula One car and racing a Toyota Corolla. Ouch!

The 49-ft foiling cats will be incredibly fast, but on a Majesticity Scale of 1-10, they only rate about 2. This isn't your grandfather's America's Cup, so it's going to be interesting to see if the event can ever recover its once-burnished aura.


Thanks for the December article called Citizen Sailor/Scientists about plastics in the oceans, what can be done to eliminate them, and how cruisers can help.
There's an additional way in which sailors can help. The Global Microplastics Initiative asks people traveling to remote lakes, rivers, and oceans to collect water samples so they can compile data regarding sources, composition and distribution of microplastics pollution. I just participated during a sail from Panama to Tahiti. We periodically took water samples and then sent them to the lab in Maine for analysis. Their website is

Dan Marshall
Instructor, Club Nautique
San Francisco Bay Area


Cruisers are perfect partners in the Global Microplastics Initiative, as we can take samples in places that few people visit. This could be especially fun and useful if you are homeschooling kids onboard. We say check it out.

We're 18 months behind on our updates following our never-ending major refit in Thailand. We haven't even covered Borneo, the solar eclipse in Indonesia, or Taiwan yet. I have to give the Wanderer, and others, a lot of credit for writing as much as they do. The more I sail, the more I want to sail rather than write about sailing.

Most of the refit work is OK. Some total crap painting is failing already, but that's interior so it's more irritating than anything. We are still finding little things they did wrong, and we're still finding blue tape here and there even though we hired people to remove it all. The exterior paint is doing well, although it's already looking less than new. And there are even a few chips, the worst being on the starboard ama bow where a Malaysian Coast Guard boat hit us. But it's just cosmetic.

We are planning on heading to Alaska in 2017, and then coming down the coast and jumping off from Mexico and back to the South Pacific in 2018. Maybe we'll be anchored in the same place as Profligate someday.

Bruce Balan and Alene Rice
Migration, Cross 46 Trimaran
Currently in Japan


I'm sitting down below in the great cabin of my Lafitte 44 Maya outside Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, listening to the rain coming down. A local told me there was a tropical wave passing through, but it turned out to be a trough, not just a wave.
My day had started innocently enough. My biggest job was motoring over to the fuel dock from my mooring for fuel and water. After I topped off, the attendant said that I could side-tie for awhile, so I did. I told them that if they needed me, I'd be hanging out at the nearby café surfing the Internet.

I was soon told that the Rambler 88, the great racing boat designed by Juan K and launched in December 2014, would soon be coming. She'd just finished the 2,750-mile ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) course in a record elapsed time of 8 days and 6 hours. Because she was too big to dock at Rodney Bay with the other boats, she was brought over to the much more upscale Marigot Bay and tied up.

When Rambler came in, I couldn't help but notice that all the crew, all professionals, were male and looked like linebackers for professional football teams. I watched them come in, then did some other chores, and eventually found myself in the bar chatting with a guy off an Amel 55 who had taken 17 or so days to cross from Las Palmas.

Before long the wind really started blowing — probably over 60 knots at one point — so I left the bar in order to go out and see how Maya was doing on her mooring. But before I got to my dinghy, a female dock attendant said, "We've got to help this big boat," meaning Rambler, as the carbon-fiber monster had been blown out of line and was coming close to damaging herself and/or the very nice catamaran next to her. The cat is owned by a young guy who is all testosterone, who nonetheless had a sign on his cockpit table that read, 'Relax'. He'd once yelled at me because he thought the outboard on my dinghy might scratch the gelcoat off his boat.

Mr. Catamaran's wife, on the other hand, was really cool. And before it was all over, she'd do something useful, which was put out a big fender.

Did I mention that it was dark? Well it was, so I was wearing my headband flashlight. You have to wear one to prevent being run down by idiots in pangas and dinghies.

Anyway, I jumped aboard the multi-, multi-million dollar race boat and pretended to know exactly what I was doing. A marina employee told me to throw him a dockline so we could winch the boat in. I threw him the line, put the other end around a winch, and tried to figure out how to work the winch. You have to understand that Rambler doesn't look anything like a 'regular' boat, and even the winch systems are complicated.

I got the line around the winch drum which is about — I'm not making this up — two feet in diameter! All I could do was get a wrap on it and pull by hand. Given the boat's towering mast and substantial windage, it was very hard to get the boat in closer. But we were making progress — until the tin roof from the ferry terminal flew past just a few feet from my head! Yes, it was still that windy. The roof hit Rambler pretty hard, but appeared not to have done much damage.

So there I was, alone on a maxi that I didn't own, with roofs and other things flying by. I could have gotten hurt by stuff flying through the air or by getting between Rambler and the concrete dock or getting between Rambler and the idiot's catamaran. As you might expect, Mr. Catamaran was continuing to have a shit fit.

I needed to get a safety line set up, so a guy on the dock told me to throw him a line. I did, but the numbskull didn't secure it to anything. He nonetheless screamed at me to pull the line in, but then dropped it in the water! I threw him another line and told him to secure it around the bollard. But he and everyone else just stood there and ignored me. Then the numbskull informed me that he was staying in the hotel, didn't own a boat, and didn't know anything about boats.

It was pretty wild as I couldn't do anything but watch. Finally some of the Rambler crew sauntered down from the hotel where they were having a big celebration party. Without a word of thanks, they took over. I got off the boat, delighted to be relieved of the responsibility. It was time for me to get out to Maya to see how she was doing in the gale-force winds. She was doing fine. And before I know it, the wind and rain had stopped.

The following morning I went down to see if Rambler — the owner calls it his "little boat" — had been damaged. I told the skipper that I'd been there when the roof hit the boat.

"Shit happens," was all he said.

Given the guy is a world-class sailing pro, it was an interesting comment for me to digest. Later on I talked to one of the Rambler crew who had been part of the Artemis America's Cup crew when they were sailing the 72-ft cats. He told me that the boat was on a mooring with the mast up when the Bay was hit by once-in-a-century 100-mph winds. He, who had only joined Artemis two days before, said he made some phone calls to his superiors to tell them about it. "Don't worry about it," is what he said they told him.

These sailing pros on boats like Rambler live in a different world and are nothing like normal sailors. You can imagine how wet it must be day and night for days on end when you average something like 25 knots across the Atlantic. And you can only imagine the fire drills they must have when stuff goes wrong on such a huge boat.

As for me, I was mad at myself for having broken the first rule of being a rescuer — don't become a victim when coming to the aid of a victim. I'd been an idiot being on Rambler alone with corrogated steel roofs blowing by.

Rick Meyerhoff
Maya, Lafitte 44

Readers — Rambler is owned by 74-year-old George David, the former CEO of United Technologies. At different points in his career he was named CEO of the Year by several business magazines, and raked in $65 million in his last year with the company.

To say David, a member of the New York YC, is an "avid racer" would be an understatement. He previously owned the R/P 90 Rambler that had formerly been Alfa Romeo I and Shockwave, and competed in major regattas around the world. Then he bought or leased the wild Juan K 100 that had been launched as Speedboat. As Rambler 100, the huge yacht capsized during the 2011 Fastnet Race, coming damn near to killing David and all his crew.

Undeterred, in December 2014 David launched Rambler 88, at just about the same time that Jim Clark launched his 100-ft Guillaume Verdier- and VPLP-designed Comanche. The two boats were and remain the most technologically advanced big racing yachts in the world. They first met in the St. Barth Voiles and later the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Rumor has it that Juan K had told David that his 88-footer would be able to beat Clark's 100-footer on a boat-for-boat basis because a 100-footer couldn't be efficiently sailed by human power alone. That proved not to be true, reportedly to David's consternation. There were later rumors that the nearly new boat might be grandly modified — including cutting her in fourths to make her longer and wider. That didn't happen. What did happen is that Rambler was raced with great success in the Med this summer and across the Atlantic in November. Her next slated event is the Caribbean 600, which starts and finishes in Antigua in late February, and most likely another Voiles de St. Barth in April.

(Despite having done only a few races in a few years, Comanche is currently laid up as owner Clark and the Comanche team are concentrating their efforts on Clark's 135-ft J Class boat Hanuman for the J Class Worlds this June in Bermuda. According to the website, Comanche will be relaunched this spring to prepare for a record attempt in the Los Angeles to Honolulu Transpac, which would be about two weeks after the J Class Worlds, and then another Rolex Sydney Hobart.)

Being a crewmember on a boat like Rambler or Comanche is brutal. The physical demands are extreme, the chance of being seriously hurt is ever present, and sleep is all but impossible. If a crewmember took either David or Clark to the International Court at the Hague, the owners would quickly be convicted of cruel and unusual punishment.


We believe the picture in the November 4 'Lectronic Latitude supporting the piece on the Baja Ha-Ha featured Mangareva, the 41-ft cutter that we used to own. Mangareva is a 1951 wooden Norman Dallimore design that was constructed in Pin Mill, England. She was built for the English Channel and the North Sea, and handled the 25-ft seas of the 2009 Ha-Ha very well.

We remember a woman named Sophie on a boat named Liberty saying, "I wasn't scared until I saw Mangareva taking the huge following seas on her stern." We were enjoying the E-ticket ride and too busy to look back.

To update things, after being sailed from England to the States in the 1970s, and trucked from Galveston to San Diego, Mangareva was owned by various people in the Bay Area during the 1980s and 1990s. She was even owned by the harbormaster at Pelican Yacht Harbor in Sausalito.

We purchased Mangareva in 1996, and sailed the coast of Mexico and Central America from 2009 to 2013. As promised, we got her to the Atlantic side of Panama, where we sold her to our crew and good sailing friends from the Netherlands, Nico Dekker and Elyn Nierop. Mangareva is currently in Panama being refit for an Atlantic crossing. Meanwhile, the couple is enjoying their yacht in the San Blas Islands and other nearby destinations. Eventually she will make it back to her homeland.

Mark and Gail Strong
Ex-Mangareva, Dallimore 41
Pollock Pines

Mark and Gail — We remember the sweet-looking Mangareva. We don't know if you've ever been to Pin Mill, where she was built, but it's a hamlet on the south bank of the tidal River Orwell, located on the outskirts of the village of Chelmondiston on the Shotley peninsula, South Suffolk. It's a cool place. Pin Mill is now famous for the historic Butt & Oyster public house and for sailing, both of which played a part in the hamlet's smuggling history. It's also famous for the legalization of a certain number of houseboats to maintain the hamlet's "Bohemian character."

The 2009 Ha-Ha did have a windy first leg, but with all due respect, the Grand Poobah doesn't believe there has ever been anything close to a 25-ft sea in the 23-year history of the Ha-Ha. A 25-ft sea is a true mountain of water. In the days of clipper ships they used to erect curtains behind helm stations so even hard-core helmsmen looking back wouldn't get freaked by the sight of 25-ft waves. To give some perspective, world authorities recently announced that they recorded a 63-ft wave recently, the biggest ever recorded.

There were a few very impressive swells during the first leg of last year's Ha-Ha that were similar to the biggest in 2009. Sailmaker Chuck 'Slim' Skewes, who has done many offshore events, said he saw just three swells that he estimated to be 16 feet. We think he's right.


Our 65-ft catamaran Dragonfly, which was built to the same basic design as Profligate, was dismasted 400 miles south of Hawaii on May 1. Fortunately no one was hurt, and she made it safely to the Big Island.

Dragonfly has been sitting in Hawaii since then while we've waited for the insurance company to settle our claim. We bought the insurance through a Florida-based company. The policy they sold us is from Lloyds of London, although it was underwriten by another firm.

After months of delays and encouraging statements that our claim would be settled, we just received notification that they are attempting to deny the claim. They have hired an attorney in the United Kingdom and are claiming equipment failure — even though the evidence is to the contrary. Among other things, they are saying that we should have had a recent "structural survey." Has anyone heard of such a thing?

However, they were able to find a surveyor who, in our opinion, conjured up a story using fallacious information and disputable assumptions to support their point of view. Obviously we will be fighting this, but we realize that we need skilled representation.

We are looking for an attorney who is experienced with this type of situation, and hopefully someone who has dealt with Lloyds of London arbitration as well. Can anyone help? We can be reached at .

Al and Jill Wigginton
Dragonfly, Hughes 65

Readers — We're confident that we know four things. First, that Dragonfly was very actively cruised between the United States and the Caribbean for many, many years before she cruised the South Pacific. Second, that some insurance companies — we're not naming any names — seem to have a history of disputing claims more than others. Third, that we've been told of many cases in which insurance companies don't get serious about insurance claims until the insured brings a lawyer into the picture. Finally, that not all legal representation is alike. Some lawyers aren't worth a damn.


I'm writing in response to the December letter in which John Rogers of the Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow expressed confusion about how often to change the impellers on the raw-water pump for his diesel engine.

I took a diesel engine class a few years ago at KKMI in Richmond, and think I got some good advice from the instructor. He recommended changing the impeller every 200 hours — and the seawater pump every 600 hours.

I have followed this advice for the last 18 years and, knock on wood, have never had an impeller or seawater pump fail. Regardless of the maintenance schedule, I do carry spare impellers.

On another subject, this fall my wife Marina and I will be doing our ninth Baja Ha-Ha. Each year has been different, which was to be expected because each year we've sailed with different crew. That's 16 different crewmembers, and not one of them complained about the event. In fact, they told us the Ha-Ha was the most fun they'd had in years.

It's true that the Ha-Ha is not for everyone, but when Mr. Asbe complained about the Ha-Ha's being so crowded, did he think it was going to be an event for hermits? As for the anchorages being crowded, if he wanted to find a place to anchor alone, all he needed to do was look over his shoulder. There was plenty of room.

As for the "parties" that didn't do anything for him, I actually wouldn't describe them as parties, but rather as social gatherings where people got to meet their sailing neighbors. If people don't like cold beer with new friends, they can bring milk. Once in Cabo, however, the Squid Roe Party is the party of parties.

Myron Eisenzimmer
Mykonos, Swan 44
San Geronimo

Myron — Change the seawater pump every 600 hours? We've put more than 12,000 hours on Yanmar diesels on Profligate and have never changed a seawater pump. During our ownership of 'ti Profligate, more than 12,000 hours have been put on her Yanmar diesels, too, and to our knowledge they have never had a seawater pump changed. In fact, we've owned maybe 15 boats in the last 40 or so years and can't remember ever having had a seawater pump fail.

We're not dismissing the expert's advice, we're just relating our personal experience.

Myron referred to a complaint about the Ha-Ha by a "Mr. Asbe." The following letter explains what he was talking about.


Contrary to the available information, the Baja Ha-Ha was all about the parties. Although these were important to some, they were of little value to us.

The Ha-Ha gave us little help negotiating through the necessary paperwork and actually made the process of entering Mexico more difficult.

In addition, the anchorages were crowded, as were the docks at San Diego and Cabo.

My advice to those who inquire of me will be to avoid the Ha-Ha — unless you like to stand around on the beach with a drink in your hand.

Doug Asbe
Leigh Ann, Alajuela 38
Seattle, WA

Readers — The Grand Poobah's official response to Mr. Asbe's complaints appeared in the November 30 'Lectronic Latitude. In short, the Ha-Ha was exactly as advertised, countless boats were assisted through the paperwork process, there was plenty of 'anchor alone' room at Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria and Cabo San Lucas, and the optional parties were there for however much anyone wanted of them.

That said, the Poobah would agree that the Ha-Ha is not an appropriate event for anyone who wants to cruise alone. Given the well-publicized number of entries, this would have seemed obvious.

The Poobah has no hard feelings toward Mr. Asbe, is sorry that he didn't enjoy the Ha-Ha, and hopes he finds his future cruising more to his liking. His letter was the only negative one received following the Ha-Ha. The number of letters expressing thanks for the event and/or disagreement would take up half the magazine, so we're publishing just a few.


We attended all five of the parties, start to finish, in the recent Baja Ha-Ha. Unlike Mr. Asbe, we found the Ha-Ha to be a great adventure and the parties to be an opportunity to meet the other cruisers, with whom who we eventually buddied up to complete other legs down the mainland coast. In addition to the parties, we enjoyed great hiking, beach walks, swimming off the transom at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria — and great sailing.

We followed the Ha-Ha's instructions for paperwork and it went completed smoothly in Cabo San Lucas.

We anchored out at Cabo, which was rolly, but quieter, less expensive, and better for clear-water swimming than if we had gotten a slip in the marina at Cabo.

We want to thank the Grand Poobah for a lifetime experience.

P.S. We attended the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party in our 'party animal' Halloween costumes.

Bruce and Cindy Osmun
Sea Oz, Hunter 44DS
Boulder, CO


Having successfully skippered my Beneteau 473 Vitesse in the 2008 and 2015 Ha-Ha's, I was taken aback by Doug Asbe's very negative comments in the November 30 'Lectronic Latitude on everything from paperwork to the social scene of the Ha-Ha.

First off, skippers are provided with very detailed instructions for preparing to enter Mexico by vessel. Call it "Entering Mexico for Dummies."

Second of all, the Ha-Ha is not "all about the parties." While my crew had plenty of fun ashore and met some really great people, the sailing was by far the best part of the event.

As for the anchorages, they were plenty big and safe.

I think Doug needs to set his sights on becoming a solo 'round the world sailor because nobody will bother him in the Southern Ocean. Lighten up, skip!

Tom Price
Vitesse, Beneteau 473
San Francisco


Having had wonderful adventures on six Baja Ha-Ha's, we just have to say "bah, humbug" to Mr. Asbe's complaints. Despite not being 'party animals', we have fabulous lifetime friends whom we met at the various Ha-Ha parties.

We are particularly grateful for the arm's-length shepherding that the Poobah has provided. It has given newcomers to cruising the space they need to get the experience and confidence necessary to develop skills that will keep them coming back or venturing on to new and exciting destinations.

Did Mr. Asbe really need more hand-holding with paperwork?

We enjoyed the Poobah's morning roll calls so we could monitor the locations of friends and buddies. We planned our schedules accordingly, which enhanced our radio communications on the VHF and SSB.

The energy and passion the Poobah and his team bring to warm-water cruising has made the Ha-Ha's one of the highlights of our cruising. So we hope the Poobah won't be discouraged by one complaint when the Ha-Ha has given thousands the opportunity to have an incredibly enjoyable and memorable trip to the tropics.

After almost 20 years of sailing and cruising our Catalina 470 Di's Dream, we have sold her, as our Bucket List is now topped by seven grandsons and some other priorities. But our memories of friends, experiences and unforgettable locations will always include the Grand Poobah and many fabulous adventures.

Rog and Di Frizzelle
ex-Di's Dream, Catalina 470
San Francisco

Rog and Di — The Poobah won't be discouraged, as he believes he was put on earth to help people have fun through events like the Ha-Ha. Thanks for the very kind words. You'll not be forgotten either.


We had a great time on the Cal 48 Wainui in the 23rd annual Baja Ha-Ha. The only damage to the interior was when a champagne bottle busted through a drawer — but didn't break open!

Our main event, however, was after the second-leg start from Turtle Bay. We had the large asymmetrical spinnaker up in 18 knots of wind. I was up on deck alone enjoying the ride with the autopilot driving in windvane mode, while my lady Stephanie and two female crew were down at the nav station giving/getting a chart-plotting lesson. Then we got hit by a strong gust.

As Wainui heeled, the ladies slid sideways — and knocked the switch for the autopilot to the 'off' position. I was on deck trimming like crazy when the autopilot suddenly went off, and the 23-ft-long boom on my boat slammed across to the other side. As this happened, the spinnaker went through the fore-triangle, and the sheet ripped the Harken drum off the roller-furling unit. It was total chaos!

Fortunately, I had a spare drum back home in the garage, and our daughter Amanda was able to fly it down to Cabo.

We saw a gust up to 33 knots, and a top boat speed of 13 knots the first night out of San Diego. We did get pooped the second night out. We nonetheless had a wonderful time.

Mark Coleman and Stephanie York
Wainui, Cal 48

Readers — Given Mark's considerable offshore sailing experience, the Poobah doesn't doubt that Wainui had a gust to 33 knots. We on the mothership Profligate don't believe we saw any wind over 22 knots, but having no wind instruments, we don't really know. Nonetheless, the Poobah figures that 2016's first leg ties with the 2009 first leg as having the strongest wind ever. There was, however, a second leg about 10 years ago that was the windiest of all.


Does the Grand PooBob have the dates for the 2017 SoCal Ta-Ta? I promised my dad I'd take time off work to help him sail his Beneteau 34 down and back from Richmond YC. But I need to ask for time off soon to get such a large block of time approved.

Anthony Johnston, BSN, RN, ACHRN
University of Colorado Health
Fort Collins, CO

Anthony — The dates are September 10-16. As always, Reggae 'Pon da Ocean' will start with a dinner on the beach at the Santa Barbara YC, then spend two nights at Santa Cruz Island, a night at Channel Islands Harbor, a night at Paradise Cove, and a night at Two Harbors, Catalina. It's been so much fun every year that we've done it that we can't wait to do it again.


Before I left Mexico I tried to find out the type of electrical connection I would need at the dock in French Polynesia — where they have 220 volts, not 110 volts — and no one could tell me. It turns out that not only do you need a special plug to run your battery charger from shore power, but you need to get a 220-volt to 110-volt converter. Both the plug and the converter would have been much easier and less expensive to purchase in the States before making the crossing.

However, my most important piece of Puddle Jump equipment was my DeLorme InReach Explorer. After leaving La Paz I spent many hours trying to get a connection with the Ham radio to email requests for GRIB files, and trying to listen in on the Ham nets. When I was within 200 miles of Mexico, I could get a connection and hear some talk. After that, I got very little or nothing.

The best weather information I got when I was more than 200 miles out was from using the InReach to text friends who had access to high-speed Internet back home. I received daily reports on weather and routing suggestions from three people.

The InReach device also has its own weather feature, and with unlimited texting I could request weather all day for any lat/long I entered.

My night watches in the middle of the Pacific were spent texting and communicating with friends back home. It made the time zip by.

Patsy 'La Reina del Mar' Verhoeven
Talion, Gulfstar 50
La Paz, Baja California Sur


We went across on Wizard, a racing boat. In hindsight, I would have gotten a boat that was more comfortable to live on. Even a full-keel boat, because we had so much wind that we were always reefing down anyway. Speed was not an issue.

Prior to many boats taking off, Mike Danielson in La Cruz talked a lot about prevailing winds and following seas, but things weren't that straightforward. Wind and seas change all the time, so people need to be ready for all conditions. In addition, as you get farther south it becomes much different from the North Pacific. There is nothing between Antarctica and you, so you get these huge lows that create waves out of the south.

Two things we didn't need were bug covers for the hatches and clearance papers from Mexico. Nobody in French Polynesia wanted to see the zarpe.
We pushed all the way to Australia in one season. It would have been better to leave the boat for tropical cyclone season and have had another season to enjoy the South Pacific.

The following are the things we think everybody doing a Puddle Jump should have: 1) A RIB with at least a 10-hp outboard. 2) An extended-stay visa for French Polynesia. 3) AIS. 4) A watermaker. 5) All-chain ground tackle. 6) As much food and booze as can be carried. 7) Plenty of wind and solar power. You can't have enough power. I would have added a minimum of 600 amp/hours of batteries.

John and Sue Campbell
Wizard, Choate 40
San Francisco

Readers — In the month before anyone does a Puddle Jump, we'd encourage them to go to every single day to get an idea of the 'big picture' and the range of conditions to expect during a Puddle Jump.


Based on our experience, cruising gear is not the decisive factor in the success of a long cruise such as a Pacific Puddle Jump, but rather the attitude of the skipper and crew. That said, our philosophy is to have the least amount of gear possible, because if you don't have it, it can't break. But when you do have gear, make sure it's as dependable as possible. You want to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Our brand-new autopilot died on our Atlantic crossing. It turns out that we really didn't need it, as we've since crossed the Pacific and Indian Oceans using our Windpilot Pacific windvane instead. We've found it to be the ultimate reliability in steering, and it taught us a lot about sail trim, too. We also found our wind generator to be useless and sold it on the other side of the Puddle.

We believe that simple independent systems work best. For example, a simple built-in chartplotter and a few iPhones and iPads with Navionics charts are more reliable than a big networked instrument system. Our next most valuable piece of equipment? Our stand-alone Vesper Marine AIS.

One's cruising boat is as important as her gear. Our Van de Stadt 37 is light but solid and dependable, and has just basic equipment. What's important to us is that she's fast. We like our boat's modern hull form, spade rudder, and fin keel because, unlike heavier boats with full keels, waves pass easily beneath her with a minimum of turning and heeling. Speed in following waves also means comfort and safety, as we don't take waves in the cockpit.

This is a little off the subject, but we were also selective about where we went. For example, we cut short our stay in the Tuamotus because, despite this being the age of technology, anchoring in those lagoons is still asking for trouble. For if your engine fails or there is a sudden change in the wind direction, you can quickly get into trouble and there is rarely anyone to help. We saw many boats that lost rudders or had them damaged, or which had broken laminates around the keel because of contact with coral. Three boats we know had been damaged and were on the hard in Papeete and Raiatea. We also know of a Baltic 38 that arrived in New Zealand with leaking keel bolts because of a collision with a coral head at Fakarava. She had to be abandoned three days after leaving New Zealand because of a broken rudder caused by the same collision.

Attila Horvath
Dora, Van de Stadt 37
Budapest, Hungary

Readers — While the Tuamotus are known to be dangerous, these were the only folks who recommended avoiding them.


We — my wife, six children and myself — did the Puddle Jump in 2013. Key things to bring along are tools and repair materials. These were quite useful after we hit a boomie in a lagoon, losing a rudder and our starboard propeller. Lucky we had a catamaran.

We also used the dinghy wheels a lot, as the 'sandy' beaches in the South Pacific are more coral than sand. A basic rebuild kit for the outboard was very important, too.

Our family is large, so our watermaker was very useful. We met others who did fine without a watermaker.

We brought too much food. Our understanding was that we would be out there for a year before we hit New Zealand and saw 'normal food' once again, and that there would only be minimal food available along the way. There was plenty of food along the way.

Power is always an issue. Oversize your solar array if possible so you can get through cloudy days.

Cyclone season in Tonga was a delight.

Courage Winter, Shannon Grant and the kids
Lil' Explorers, Kurt Hughes 58 cat
Channel Islands


One thing that potential Puddle Jumpers might overlook is the importance of their inflatable and its being able to hold air. Your inflatable is your water taxi, your shore boat, your upriver excursion boat in remote areas, and so forth. Without a dinghy you are stranded either on your boat or on shore.

So, is the adhesive in your patch kit still good? It may feel pliable if you squeeze the tube, but it might just be a tube of solidified rubber. In my case my dinghy-patch adhesive had gone bad — as had the adhesive on the boats of four cruising friends.

So make sure that you have two-part adhesive so that it can't 'go off' by itself while stored in a locker. And check the shelf life as well. And, I'd recommend having a tube of 5200 aboard… just in case.

Joel Stern
Paradise Bound, Vagabond 47
San Diego

Joel — Good tip. 5200 is also good, in combination with sail cloth, for emergency repairs of mainsails. As most sailors know, 5200 is notorious for going off in the tube. Limiting the amount of air it gets and storing it in the refrigerator helps. Just don't confuse it with the Cool Whip.


I did a 21-day Puddle Jump with my Tartan 3800 OC Compañera last spring starting from Cabo, and loved how my boat did. She's still in Tahiti, and I'm planning to bring her home this summer so I can do another Baja Ha-Ha in 2017. Gear I liked:

1) The cruising gennaker on the Selden CX25 furler, as it provided great performance in a variety of conditions. 2) My DeLorme InReach satellite communicator, which interfaced well with my iPad. It fact, it worked so well that I never activated my Iridium satphone. 3) My Hydrovane self-steering system worked flawlessly. I mounted a tiller-pilot to it for windless days. It worked well so I seldom used my Raymarine ST-6000 autopilot. 4) My Spectra watermaker worked great — but you have to change the filters.

Now for things that either didn't work or weren't adequate: 1) The Yanmar 38-hp diesel wasn't powerful enough in demanding conditions. 2) While the engine had been well maintained, spare parts were critical. 3) My 300-watt solar panels worked great, but were insufficient. 4) My Primus Air Silent X Wind Turbine generated little power when sailing downwind. I replaced it with a Primus Air Breeze and had better results. I regret that I didn't have a Honda 2000 portable generator. 5) My Adler-Barbour refrigerator was a power hog. Performance improved after I re-insulated the interior, reducing the volume. 6) The most frustrating was a short in the microphone for my SSB, which meant I could listen to the other boats in the Puddle Jump, but I couldn't communicate with them! 7) Several bilge-pump float switches failed during the crossing. 8) You don't want fluffy towels in the tropics. Replace them with easy-to-dry backpacker towels. 9) I brought way too many blankets, comforters and clothes. 10) I didn't use my paper charts a single time.

A carefully planned-out medical kit, including several types of antibiotics, is essential. I developed a seriously infected finger that required a trip back to the States from the Marquesas. Upon arrival in the States, I had to undergo emergency surgery and was hospitalized for several days.

Remember, there are no West Marine or similar stores in French Polynesia; it's all 220-volt, so there are no 30- or 50-amp outlets; the currency is different; and they use the metric system. The navigation system is different, too. 'Red, right, returning' in French Polynesia will put your boat on the reef. The French also use butane rather than propane, and the fittings are different.

Joel Sorum
Compañera, Tartan 3800 OC

Readers — We can't recall a respondent who didn't love their windvane, and many reported great success using a tiller-pilot to drive when motoring.


We found that the biggest problem on a long passage such as the Puddle Jump is crew. We're sure that many others would agree with us.

We picked up our four crew in Guatemala. They were all volunteers with some sailing experience. They all got seasick, which really wasn't a problem because they still stood their watches.

One of the four left the boat in Panama, having thought we were going to be busy sailing by doing lots of tacking and stuff. He was replaced by a spoiled brat who left us in the Galapagos when his granny paid for his trip home.

That left us with three crew on an 80-ft ketch for the long trip to the Marquesas. As big was our boat is, she got very small very quickly, with seemingly nowhere to hide.

If possible, always vet the crew, hopefully with a three- or four-day trip before you leave. If might make your trip a lot more enjoyable.

Rhonda Crossley
Alabama, 80-ft Ketch
Vuda Marina, Fiji



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